Asian Century

13 May 2018

Two events of the past few weeks indicate the changes happening in the world order. The first was the visit of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to Wuhan, China for a two- day informal meeting with the Chinese President, Xi Jinping. One of the themes that emerged from their discussions was that of the 21st century being an “ Asian Century”. The two leaders agreed that peaceful Indo- China relations were necessary for a peaceful world order. The second event was the Chinese declaration that it will continue its economic ties with Iran in view of imminent sanctions being imposed upon Iran by the Trump led US administration after it revoked the Iran nuclear deal.

These two events are clearly pointing towards emergence of an “Asian Century”. In the past, the West dominated the world largely due it technological prowess. The East used to be in awe of Western technological superiority. Now there is no technology that the East cannot master- be it space, nuclear or Information technology. The Chinese have made giant strides in all these. India has also proved its mettle in space exploration by successfully launching its Mars mission- the Mangalyan at a fraction of the cost that the US had incurred. Indeed, as one Indian educationist has said, “ There is no rocket science in rocket science.”

The Western domination on the world began with the renaissance period in the middle ages. There were vast advancements in science and technology and the West tamed the East by use of superior technology in warfare, industry and economy. The nineteenth century belonged to Europe who colonised most parts of the World and dominated it. In the twentieth century, the world power shifted further west- into the Americas. The US became a dominant force and a superpower largely due to great developments in nuclear, space and Information technology. The twenty- first century is set to become the “Asian Century”. Asia has 60% of world population and has the economic powerhouses of China, India and Japan.

The Western thought that propelled the world economy for almost six centuries gifted the world with advancements in medical sciences so that human life expectancy increased, vast developments in science and technology that made human life far more comfortable- such as the electric grid, developments in transportation, construction, mining and agriculture sectors and stable institutions for governance and human welfare. However, on the flip side, it gave the world two terrible wars and a genocide, dangerous weapons, destruction of environment, mindless consumerism, a warming planet and degenerative diseases due to use of dangerous chemicals and sedentary lifestyles. The world is dangerously poised for a disaster with large number of nuclear stockpiles, extreme climate events due to global warming, people suffering from degenerative diseases as people become slaves to technology.

So what will the Asian Century be like? The Asian Century will lead the world with ancient wisdom. Wisdom that aims at internal development of a person rather than external material development which the West propagated. Humanity has reached the tipping point in scientific achievement- they have been successful in splitting the atom to get energy equal to a million suns and they will also land on Mars shortly. But despite these successes, human being is not at peace internally. It will be the responsibility of the Eastern world to help humans find peace within themselves in the coming decades.